She’s gone ‘Over the Rainbow’ nearly 500 times

Apr. 03, 2014 @ 09:53 AM

A Canadian production of “The Wizard of Oz” with new music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice has hit the yellow brick road on tour in the U.S. Starring the winner of a Canadian reality show as Dorothy, “The Wizard of Oz” will be on stage at the Durham Performing Arts Center April 8 through 13.

Danielle Wade has spent the past two and a half years being Dorothy, the teenager from Kansas who travels to the merry old land of Oz and goes on an adventure with three new friends. Wade won the Canadian television show “Over the Rainbow” in 2012 to get the role of Dorothy. In England, the BBC network also had a show to cast the musical there. Wade has been on tour for more than a year, and spoke with The Herald-Sun on Wednesday from a stop in Fayetteville, Ark. This tour does not include a stop in Kansas, though it will be performed in Kansas City, Mo.
Wade said she remembers watching the 1939 movie starring the late Judy Garland “a million times with my family.” The challenge is making the role of Dorothy her own because “everyone knows the character and has so much attachment to Dorothy,” she said. The hardest part is telling the same story in your own way, Wade said.
The Dorothy of the musical “The Wizard of Oz” is a tomboy and a little rough around the edges compared to the film version, she said. Dorothy wears overalls in the beginning.
“She’s a little more outspoken than the film. She’s still the leader, and takes the boys on the journey,” Wade said.
The rest of the cast – Tin Man, Scarecrow, Lion, Glinda, the Wicked Witch and others – have worked together really well since day one, Wade said, especially with a live animal on stage. Toto is played by a real dog in the musical. Well, two dogs, as there is an understudy Cairn terrier, too. The dogs are very well-behaved, Wade said. “Better than us sometimes,” she said.
This production has new Webber and Rice songs for Glinda, the Wicked Witch and Professor Marvel. “I think they add something new to the story,” Wade said.
She has also seen the other musical based on Frank Baum’s story -- “Wicked” -- and said it’s fun to see different takes on a story everyone knows.
“Once you’re in ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ you realize how often it’s in pop culture. Everything references ‘The Wizard of Oz,’” she said. Wade’s favorite of the popular lines is, “We’re not in Kansas anymore.” She also hears references to clicking her heels, too.
Those ruby slippers of Dorothy’s have gotten more comfortable to wear now, Wade said. She wishes time travel was invented and she could click her heels. So when would she go?
“I’d like to meet Judy [Garland]. That’d be cool,” she said.
Wade has had a blast as Dorothy, she said.
“I’m so grateful, so grateful,” Wade said. She has sung “Over the Rainbow” for nearly 500 performances.
“It’s such a great song, you don’t get tired of it,” she said.


WHAT: “The Wizard of Oz”

WHEN: April 8-13
WHERE: Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St., Durham